October has been a great month for me! I started coding my Project 3 for Code Institute, and I also took part in my first ever Hackathon! I cannot begin to express how much fun it was, and what a buzz I got from it. The hackathon was organised by Code Institute, and we were split into teams of 4 for the challenge. Each team was then given 3.5hrs to build a website around 2 key words, while remembering to work as a team and show our collaboration using Trello.
Our team (and many others) ended up being only 2 people strong, as most of the students also have work and family commitments that their studies have to fit around. Anthony Bonello and I were given “Devilish Ghost” as our key words, and that was literally the extent of the brief! I must admit I hate having to work from something so vague, but we did it!
We decided to follow the KISS principle, and build a website that would showcase ghost stories from the Hastings, UK area. This meant that we did not have any complex functionality to build, but we would still be meeting the hackathon brief. The only reason for choosing Hastings as our focus area was that I have been on a ghost walk there and it made a lasting impression.
Anthony and I had been chatting prior to the start of the hackathon, and had already decided that I would be the “crayon” in the team (a term learned from a fellow student, to refer to the designer). So while Anthony put the HTML and CSS frameworks in place, I found images and content for our site, and did any editing that was required. Anthony found our cool “ticklish” ghost though!
We used Cloud 9 for our collaborative workspace, and it worked pretty well. It was great being able to chat to each other in the same window where we were coding. Switching to Slack every time we wanted to chat took time, and really broke focus I must admit using Trello also felt intrusive rather than helpful, but project management is vital when working in a team. It is something we all need to get used to. These details all feed into the reason why the hackathon was set up in the first place – to give us exposure to a more ‘real-world’ experience than just coding on our own for marks will give.
Once the basic structure was in place, I added the stories in the form of bootstrap cards, and helped tweak the CSS for the cards and footer. All these last minute tweaks took place in the final half hour and the adrenaline rush was crazy. At the end each team got a chance to present and discuss their work. I was blown away by how imaginative some of the ideas were. We had a party website, a band page, and even an blood supply site for vampires!
The biggest take-away for me though, was the amount of fun we all had. How great it was to have an immediate deadline to work towards, and how that fuelled my productivity. This is ABSOLUTELY the career I want, and knowing that so strongly is a really great feeling. It encourages me and makes me feel really excited for my future. Winning was very much just the icing on the cake.
nthony and I each won a Raspberry Pi Zero:
a low cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV, and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. It is a capable little device that enables people of all ages to explore computing, and to learn how to program in languages like Scratch and Python.
I have no idea what I want to build with mine, and that is the way it must stay for now. The danger of derailing my studies entirely while I play with this nifty little toy is just far too great, so it has been packed away until I have my diploma. I will definitely be blogging about that when the time comes though.
A big thank you to my teammate, Anthony Bonello, and to the staff at Code Institute for setting this up and mentoring us through it. And a sneaky thanks to my Elf for proof reading the content as I put it together. Definitely one of my best days ever.